All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS is approximately equal to Illinois or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded for all teams, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end of half run out the clock situations.
At this point adjustments for strength of opponent are directional but still highly uncertain. They will be used when noted and excluded otherwise. As the season progresses almost all numbers will be opponent adjusted.
Rush Offense vs Indiana
Michigan Off, no adjustments: +13 PAN, 3rd nationally, 1st in Big 10
Michigan Off, opp adjusted: +6 PAN, 6th, 1st
Indiana Def, no adjustments: +2 PAN allowed, 58th, 7th
Indiana Def, opp adjusted: +3 PAN allowed, 101st, 11th
This should be another bloodbath on the ground. No matter how you slice it, Michigan is really good at running the ball and Indiana hasn’t been great at stopping it and they have played some terrible teams. Based on the numbers this is projected to be between a 9 and 15 point advantage for Michigan.
Denard Robinson is leading all players (including running backs) with a +13 PAN per game on the ground, nearly double the next highest quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick at Nevada and Cam Newton at Auburn who both sit at +7 PAN.
It sounds like Michael Shaw will be out this week. He has been Michigan’s leading running back but holds a relatively mundane +1 PAN on the season and is 12th among Big 10 running backs in total rushing PAN. Vincent Smith sits right behind Shaw with a +0 PAN and 13th in the Big 10.
Pass Offense vs Indiana
Michigan Off, no adjustments: +7 PAN, 22nd nationally, 4th in Big 10
Michigan Off, opp adjusted: +4 PAN, 16th, 2nd
Indiana Def, no adjustments: -3 PAN allowed, 14th, 2nd
Indiana Def, opp adjusted: +2 PAN allowed, 90th, 10th
Another big swing from Indiana’s cupcake non-conference schedule. Adjusting for opponent takes them from top 20 in pass defense to bottom 20. With a big advantage on the ground Michigan might be going to the air in large quantities but they shouldn’t have much trouble when they do. This matchup is projecting to be a 4-6 point advantage for Michigan.
With the limited throws required of Denard, his total value has been good at +5 passing, but with the success other Big 10 quarterbacks have had to dated his 54th ranking overall in passer value is 8th in the Big 10.
The limited attempts have also limited the numbers from the wideouts. Roundtree and Stonum are the two with enough catches and yards to qualify and they are a decent +4 and +2 respectively. These numbers put them at 16th and 24th in the conference.
Rush Defense vs Indiana
Michigan Def, no adjustments: +3 PAN allowed, 65th nationally, 9th in Big 10
Michigan Def, opp adjusted: +1 PAN allowed, 80th, 8th
Indiana Off, no adjustments: -1 PAN, 90th, 9th
Indiana Off, opp adjusted: -2 PAN, 84th, 9th
Indiana running the ball against Michigan’s defense has all the makings of a pillow fight. Indiana isn’t great at running the ball and Michigan isn’t great at stopping it. Don’t expect a big focus or advantage either way when it comes to Indiana running the ball.
Hoosier running back Darious Willis is the lone qualifying back from Indiana and he comes in 16th in the conference at –0 PAN per game on the season.
Pass Defense vs Indiana
Michigan Def, no adjustments: +4 PAN allowed, 70th nationally, 8th in Big 10
Michigan Def, opp adjusted: +2 PAN allowed, 85th, 9th
Indiana Off, no adjustments: +20 PAN, 1st, 1st
Indiana Off, opp adjusted: +8 PAN, 3rd, 1st
And things just got a bit scary. The secondary was a massive fear for Michigan fans everywhere coming into the season and even after accounting for their wretched non-conference opponents, Indiana’s passing game looks like a well oiled machine.
Quarterback Ben Chappell has been the man behind the entirety of the +20 PAN through the air. That feat of efficiency places him squarely at #1 in the country in value added among signal callers. He hasn’t been a threat on the ground at all, but his productivity and efficiency passing the ball have been second to none through the early non-conference slate.
His targets have included five different players with qualifying stats, three of which are ranked in the top 100 nationally. Damarlo Belcher is 8th nationally and tops in the Big 10 with +8 PAN on the season. Terrance Turner is fourth in the Big 10 at +6 and Tandon Doss is also a solid +5. The Hoosier’s fourth and fifth most productive targets have been Ted Bolswer and Duwyce Wilson, who despite having three guys ahead of them on their own team, are ahead of only Roy Roundtree on Michigan’s roster in receiver productivity. Running back Darius Willis is an occasional target as well, ranking fourth among Big 10 backs in receiving.
Because it’s still difficult to determine how much of Indiana’s success is directly due to their weak schedule, projecting this matchup seems especially difficult. Not difficult is saying that this should be a huge struggle for Michigan but in how bad is it going to be.
Special Teams and Penalties vs Indiana
Punters and punt returners will probably not decide this game. Indiana has been pretty average at both and Michigan has been above average at the punting and below average in the returning. When it comes to the frequent kickoffs and kick returns, both teams have been equally bad at both so far this season. The kicking has been a major sore spot for Michigan fans this season. After last week’s refusal to skip the field goals altogether, Michigan moves up to 114th nationally as other teams continue to trot out poor kickers. Indiana hasn’t been hit as hard as Michigan but their situation isn’t great itself. They come in at 87th nationally at –1.4 but have only attempted 2 field goals in their two FBS games.
Penalties could be interesting for these two teams as well. Both teams have been at the way wrong end of the penalties so far this year. Indiana is slightly better than Michigan at –2 and 102nd nationally versus Michigan’s 108th and –3 per game.
Predictions Almost Certain to Cost You Money if Taken Seriously
You don’t need any fancy stats to determine that this one has all the makings of a shootout. If both teams offenses continue rolling it might only take a stop or two for one defense to gain an advantage. If Michigan doesn’t lose the turnover battle they should have a pretty good shot at winning.
Michigan 35 Indiana 31
Elsewhere in the Big 10:
Ohio St 28 Illinois 13 – Ohio St goes back to a bit of Tressel-ball in Big 10 play
Iowa 17 Penn St 12 – The opposite of the Michigan Indiana game
Michigan St 28 Wisconsin 24 – Setting up a match of undefeated teams next week
Minnesota 35 Northwestern 31 – Upset of the week, the Fighting Brewsters pull one out
Alabama 21 Florida 17 - Alabama wins another one ugly
Stanford 34 Oregon 31 – Stanford knocks off the Ducks in Eugene.